Sunday, February 26, 2017

The world in your palm

                  Recently I saw a short video clip which graphically showed how over the last 30 years, the computer has become a  gadget which enables us to access all types of information under one roof. The video begins with a shot of a table cluttered with scores of items  like a clock, a telephone, calculator, photo frames with pictures, memo pads, scissors, newspapers, magazines, a globe, a fax machine, a camera,  a transistor radio, television, a bunch of letters etc.,  all disappearing one by one and reappearing as icons on the screen of a laptop. The information or whatever you want to see is available to you on clicking  over the appropriate icon. Thanks to the introduction of smart phones ( I call them ‘over’ smart phones)  all this information is now available  in your mobile phone – literally putting the world in your palm.
While the smart phone has certainly helped in  shrinking  the world and has helped in instant communication with your near and dear ones  it is guilty of  almost eliminating - the one- on- one or one- to- group, normal  personal communication and interaction. So much so that the younger generation  and  the not so young  generation,  have started living in a virtual world.

In the eighties and nineties Television was the only distraction available in a home preventing normal conversations. The one  occasion when the family was together was when they were  watching an episode of a mega serial in the only television set available at home. And how the family  used to hate a good friend  dropping in on a social call without prior appointment. Today,  even that opportunity for the family to bond has been snatched away by various  gadgets.

The other day I was visiting a friend, after telling him in advance that I want to meet him  to discuss some problem I was facing.  After receiving me  and making me sit in the drawing room, the friend excused himself to attend to an urgent call . His son was busy texting on his mobile, his daughter was occupied with a laptop, his wife was busy talking on her mobile. Even his old parents were busy watching a serial on the television placed in one corner of the drawing room. Nobody even bothered to recognize my presence in the room. My friend came back after 10  minutes  full of apologies  when his mobile  rang again. . “ Excuse me , this is also an urgent call I have to attend `- so saying he again vanished into his bedroom to attend to the call. I felt miserable sitting there twiddling my thumb hoping to get the attention of someone from  the family. When I realized that nobody was bothered about me  I made a quiet exit without even bidding good bye to my friend.  He is yet to call me to  apologize for the treatment meted out to me by the whole family.
 I realized later that I could have got the attention and views of my friend  easily if I had tried to talk to him over the phone instead of  trying to meet him personally- wasting precious time and money traveling five  kms to & from his house.

No wonder,  `WhatsApp` has become today  an  important means of communicating with your near and dear ones, even when they are sitting right next to you!

(This article appeared in Adyar Times issue dt. 26th Feb-5th march,2017 under my column `Rajan`s Random Reflections`)

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